There is a word in the German language that, until recently, I couldn’t quite define. More of a multifaceted feeling than a tangible element, Ausstrahlung can be defined quite beautifully and accurately by Roald Dahl’s astute definition.
This is both my favorite word as well as my favorite feeling. It is the “qua”, the something, that is undefinable yet unmistakable. It is the light, the radiance, that shines out from within. And that, my friends, is true beauty.
Defintion: a business term relating to an over inundation of amount of work, or emotional energy exerted to sustain a schedule or situation.
In other words, I am feeling a bit left of center lately. This is for several reasons, I imagine. I could list them, but I don’t want to be boring by going into the details. I’ll just say simply that there seems to be a stockpile of things going less than satisfactory at the moment, and I have gotten caught up with dwelling on, or worrying about them in one way or another. Fortunately, though, I am cognizant that this sort of things happens to everyone at one time or another. Unfortunately, I am staring up from the bottom of the rabbit hole, thinking to myself, “Fuck, eh. It’s a bit lonely down here.”
So, the plan is to climb out, and by the end of week, emerge gingerly, blinking into the sunlight. Here is my plan to recenter and find peace in my heart and mind.
I am going to get up at 5AM every day. I know; it is a beastly time to be up and about. But, I’ve realized that it will allow me a solid hour to get into some yoga, do whatever writing I may feel compelled to, and be mindful in my morning activities rather than just rushing through the means to get to the ends. I feel scattered and harried, and I think allowing myself more time to do things that energize me will make the extra hour and a half earlier wakeup-call completely worthwhile.
I am going to step away from the dating apps. They have become a bit of a crutch, are unfulfilling, and will not be able to offer me what I am looking for at this moment in time. Maybe I will revisit them once I have re-centered my focus. Or maybe I will leave them altogether. Delete. Part of the noise that is the tech world will no longer be a means for meeting possible partners. Hm, there’s a thought.
Most importantly, I am going to remind myself to the breathe throughout every and in all situations. Things spiral very quickly for me when I unknowingly starve myself for oxygen. Once it is gone, it is quite difficult for me to get back. I need to retrain my body to revel in the air it receives. That is where this plan is circular; the yoga will help me learn how to breathe again. It will also help me to slow down and listen more closely to my body and my energy.
And I definitely need to slow down. I’ve been on bandwidth overload for the last bit of time, and I cannot continue this way. I am not performing as the best version of myself. It is time to make some positive changes for myself, and, frankly, I know that I am the only one who can pull me from the morass in which I have sunken.
Starting tomorrow, it is a new week. Monday morning is the perfect time to get into a new rhythm. For myself and for all those I care about, I am hoping it will be the beginning of good happenings, Fall weather, and peace of mind. And–tech world be damned–a relent from bandwidth overload.
Ready to move on? Not into it anymore? Looking for honesty? Here is a productive way to be honest and truthful without being hurtful.
“I’ve given this a pretty extensive amount of thought and, even though there is a lot about you that I really like, I think there are some things that cannot be reconciled. Also, I am very aware of the change in energy. It’s not what’s once was, and we aren’t in the same placee, on the same train of thought, that we were last week even. So, I think it is best to call it a lovely experience and recognize that it isn’t what either of us want or need anymore. I’m so glad I got to know you. You gave me incredible knowledge and I am so grateful for that. I am happy to have shared with you what I did.”
For individuals who give credence to the energies of organisms, the intricate and nuanced working of such is undeniable. In fact, Buddhists believe that everything in the universe says “om”: my being, my mug of coffee, the tree next to me, the table at which I sit. All of it is pulsating “om” into the universe. Those energies intermingle and mix together and create the atmosphere. I am not a Buddhist, but I do believe their is a lot of profound truths to be found within this particular set of beliefs. Because, as many may know, I am a firm and ardent believer in energy.
The most powerful element of being a human being is meeting another human being whose energy connects and aligns with yours. It can be a man or woman, and it doesn’t happen all that often. But when it does, something beautiful is created; friendships, partnerships, a love, respect, connection unlike any other. Not necessarily a soul mate, per se, but certainly the energies speak to the souls of the other in some strong and powerful way.
When I think of the story that has brought me to the situations and locations in which I have met the energies and souls that move me, it is almost comical. It is most wondrous how such dark, laborious periods can ferry me to a place of inescapable beauty and light. Unsuspecting is also a key word, here. I didn’t realize I was in the place of synergy until it walked right up to me and told me so. Or maybe, I didn’t allow myself to realize; I kept it to myself, and quietly let it bide inside of me.
Biding; I’ve done a lot of that in the last bit of time. If nothing else, this segment of my life has taught me a tremendous amount of patience and presence. It is timely, to be sure. And, though exasperating and frustrating, infuriating almost, it has been relevant and mind changing. Stepping back from the things—because they were mere things—that I focused all of my desires on, has allowed me to have clarity and refocus. And, because of that, I have found things that have changed me, moved me, recreated me. Humans, souls, energies, loves. The very synergy of human life.
There is so much to this story, and there is no good place to begin. Where would the beginning be, anyway? I forget where we were. And I am not even quite sure where I am. But, things come to me. They come, and they go. But something else comes in its place; a piece of knowledge or a memory of the way things once were, or some realization about myself. To live life is such a powerful happening.
Thoughts and emotions create a powerful set of beliefs and, ultimately, some kind of alternate reality in a lot of ways. About anything, really. I mean, I have literally had the experience of hating a certain dish at a restaurant, going back a few months later and having it again in different company, and finding it perfectly satisfactory. The notion that the company in which you find yourself can change the wiring of your brain is almost nuts. But it is true. It is, because we are perceptive beings, and once that perception is built, it is bloody difficult to change.
How many times I have found myself in a situation with someone I was in a relationship with (this instance, especially), and my mind and body were screaming at me to walk away; the argument, regardless of how passive or harmless it may have appeared, was not going anywhere good. In fact, it was a perfectly packaged inkling of how the future would undoubtedly play out. “Go! Walk away! Get the fuck out while you can!” the logical part of my brain and my inner energies scream. And the lonelier, weaker part of myself says, “Give it a chance, it will be okay. Things will come around back to the way they were.” And why is that the weaker part of myself knows how to manipulate or quell the stronger, more real part? What the fuck is that anyway? Frustrating as hell; that is exactly what it is.
The saving grace in all of this, though, is that my energy catches up with me and calls bullshit on my weakness. And thank God, because it saves me from making catastrophic mistakes that will do days and months of damage if left unattended and unaddressed.
Here is an example, fresh off the press inside my head:
On my way home after a long day of work, thoughts, and extras, the notion that things aren’t what they once were with the guy I’m seeing is something that I just can’t shake. Yes, I’ve already established that he’s not my person. I have not forgotten this. On the contrary, thank you universe, today was a blessed, if not brutal, reminder. The guy that was telling me how beautiful, intelligent, fun, interesting, amazing I am, willing to cuddle me, wants to hold my hand in public and kiss me and let everyone know how he thinks about me—he’s not doing that anymore. Not today, anyway. Not since he left my flat yesterday.
We. Are. Fucked.
Not because my ego is now suffering from attrition or withdrawals—please, I am made of stronger stuff. No, what it tells me is that something has shifted. His feelings, our destiny, the potential—any of it, all of it. The truth is, the way we were talking on the phone this evening was—holy Christ—absolutely and positively sterile. Not the same two people from Friday. It has been a downward hike, a gradual one, since Friday night. Gradual enough to where I might not notice it. But, today, there was no way around it—or I wouldn’t let myself go around it. Why? Because I would say a big “Adieu” to my own personal happiness if I went along with it. And, polling the room (weak side of me, shut the hell up!), why on Earth would I do that?
I wouldn’t, and I won’t.
Theres is a silver lining though. Hard fact is, no, it isn’t going to work. I am on my own again. But, thanks to this same chap, I know even more of what I’m about when it comes to being in tune with myself and what I can stand and tolerate. That is huge. It is nice to know me better. It is a privilege that I don’t always have the presence of mind to take advantage of. And, for God’s sake, I am certainly not alone. I have an incredible social circle to keep me much more than just afloat. Not to mention the fact that I have a new found independence by moving into such an incredible new space (more on that later), and, moreover, (goddamnit!) I will hold out until I meet my person. Nothing else could possibly be worth my long while.
I’m doing life; I can do life with anyone who can walk beside me for a time. And, yes, that, right now, is incredibly gratifying as well as satisfying. Bottom line (back to the business analogy) is that return on investment is everything, and I would like to be in the habit of making savvy choices for my investments. Pretty simple, in theory. Yet, in practice, things are less than black and white.
It is a really strange thing. Dating, I mean. Not strange as a practice, I suppose. Everybody has to do something like it: it is a means for an end. Or is it an end for means?
Either way, I am at it again. Just when I thought I couldn’t be more disenchanted with online dating, and began only passively checking the app every once in awhile, there he was. Not only did he like my photo, but he also started up a conversation (shocking, truly). And it was a very good conversation. And we all know how these things progress from here: we chat a few days via the app, we exchange numbers, vet each other a bit, realize it is real enough, and then decide to meet. Online dating 101.
Upon meeting, though it wasn’t an instant connection, I thought there would be enough there to leave room for some potential. So, I stayed after lunch. I am happy I did. It was great way to spend a Sunday. Most definitely a fantastic use of my time. I am glad I met him. And we continued to talk extremely often. Not just texting; video chats and phone conversations as well. He gets that part of me, and ticks the same way as far as wanting to share and be in contact. From this, I realized that this aspect of connecting with someone is super important to me. This is the standard I am looking for. That’s not everybody’s cup of tea, obviously, but it certainly is mine. Before, I thought I could handle less communication. Now I know that this is what I find satisfying.
What is more is the quality of the communication; he is comfortable expressing his thoughts and saying sweet, touching things to me. I know he appreciates me in many ways. And I like that doesn’t assume that I know these things. So, now I also realize just how important this is to me as well. Two things that I suspected about myself, but have now been confirmed. Alone for this reason, this chance meeting has been very productive. I like what I’ve been able to learn about him and about me from our involvement with each other. The facts seem illusive, but sometimes can be very clear if we give ourselves the chance to learn them.
And so it goes on.
He is not my person. I like him, I am sure I could even love him, if I allowed myself to stick around long enough. But why would I do that? Because, if I don’t, I am afraid. Scared to be lonely? Maybe. Afraid of hurting him? Also. Mostly, it is the thought that this is it: I am destined to a love life of meeting, liking, realizing, letting go. Repeat. Or, of rejection. That this is all there really is. Because, let’s face it: there are a million awesome, interesting, fun, intelligent people out there, and they are all single. They haven’t found their person/people, so what is to say that I will find mine? That is why it is tempting to hold on to something that is not meant to be mine. He could suit me for a time, most certainly. He does suit me. We have a good, easy time together, and he makes me feel comfortable and appreciated. Good things, all of them. I can see, though, —or feel, rather— that there are some things between us that I wont find flattering in the long term. Nothing catastrophic, or obvious flaws in character, and nothing that would bring physical or emotional harm to me in any way. But there are things, little things. There is something about those little things, though; they are extremely important, somehow, and it is as salient that they line up as it is when comparing how big things line up.
I know myself well enough, these days, to hear what my body is saying to me. Shifts in energy, the way I react to situations, the nuance of the mechanism that I am. My body is comfortable next to his; it is not alive, it is not furthered, it is not set afire, there is no hum. It is positive, it is enjoyable, it is comfortable. And that is all there is. What’s missing is the all encompassing connection, the je ne sais qua, the strong hum, the pull, the desire, the slight discomfort caused by the kindling of both body and soul. It is to be found. And certainly there is more than one person in the universe whose energy will align with mine in this way. But the universe hasn’t given that person to me just yet. Maybe it will, and maybe it wont.
For now, though, I will hold on loosely to the things that are only meant to be for a short time. Hopefully, that will make it easier for me to let them go when the time is right. This is by no means easy for me. Not at all. On the contrary; I will struggle to do what is right for the next bit of time. But, as I have said before, when I am ready to wake up, I always do. And I know he is bringing to light much knowledge that will no doubt help me along my path. But I will have to let him go at some point. When our purpose has been fulfilled, and we have done all we can for each other, it will be time. At that time, the universe will shift once again, and our energies, and whatever connection there may have been between them, will gravitate away from one another. There will be healing, there will be growth. There will be fond memories, and gratitude. There will be a future of uncertainly founded on a past of discovery. And the knowledge gained will help us both to go forth and be brave on the next part of our journeys.
One of the most incredible things about the journey of life is how often it takes you full circle.
I mean, we’ve all been there: running into the past in some form is not highly uncommon. On the contrary. It happens pretty damn often.
Well, today was one such occasion. I’ll say I ‘ran’ into the chap that I was dating a few months back, but really, it was no surprise. We had been in touch; I knew he was going to be where I was going to be; and, though this would be the first time we saw each other since our mutual break-up, I knew that we are both secure enough in ourselves to make, at the very least, cordial conversation.
There’s a twist in the story, though. It wasn’t like I was visiting our old stomping grounds while out with some friends. No. Rather, I was going to be with my son; the very same little human that was never introduced during our dating relationship. After everything was said and done, he was finally going to meet my son. “Huh,” I thought to myself, “Fancy that.” Ironic? Maybe a little. And I had no idea what to expect.
Arguably, the best part of life is the surprises it presents you with. My confrontation with the recent past was better than I could have ever anticipated. It was comfortable, familiar, and not one bit awkward. In fact, I even remember thinking that he looked really good. Why shouldn’t he? He’s still the same person, in many ways, that I was attracted to when it all first began. The coolest part, though, is that he is the first man of my past with which I feel comfortable sustaining contact or a friendship. While we were talking, I realized that, when I told him I was happy for him, I legitimately was. And when he mentioned that we should catch up over food, I was actually ready and willing. Not because I was looking for something that may or may not still be there. Not at all. We know we aren’t it. But, he’s still someone that brings a certain element of joy to our interactions, and why not invest in people who have that ability?
The same goes for a girl friend I knew in high school. We lost touch thereafter, and during a dark part of my life, I wrote her off and figured I would never hear from her again. But, during a time of transition, I wagered my odds and reached out to her. My God, am I glad that I did! Not only did I find out we were in similar situations at the time, but I also realized that she was both the same awesome girl I had known as well as being someone older and wiser and a hell of a lot of fun. Without taking the risk and seeing her, though, I would’ve never known that. Now, here we are going on a girls weekend tomorrow. And I couldn’t be more grateful to have her friendship.
So, I dunno, chaps. Sometimes the past should stay the hell where it is. And sometimes it should come around for another round of hellos. I never know who has what to offer until I confront the person, I guess. But I do believe that taking the chance is worth it every time. At least I will know what is on offer, one way or the other. And, more often than not, I am moved by the power of fate, destiny if you will, bringing people back as permanent, or even temporary, fixtures in my life. The fact is that every person I meet is very much a part of getting me where I am going. And these meetings, my dears, are an incredibly powerful happening, indeed.
It began when I stopped answering his messages, stopped calling him back when I saw he had phoned. It wasn’t that he didn’t bring color to my life in a way that I certainly enjoyed and maybe even needed; it wasn’t that at all. In fact, for the longest time, I didn’t know what it was. I was joyful to see him, and I missed him when I was away. Actually, there was not a negative thing to name in our relationship. It was a beautiful, gracious, and jovial connection; and it was more than love really. It was likely once in a lifetime. And I knew if it ever ended, it would destroy everything I had. It would shatter me. I would be nothing. And right now, I was everything. While the stone in me continued to roll along, and I went about my writing just as I always had, sometimes he accompanied me, others not. He had his own work, after all, and he was bloody brilliant in it and for it.
I came to the conclusion that, as heartbreaking as it would be, I would need to walk away on my own terms; tell him goodbye before anything had the chance to start slowly dismantling, decaying, turning to rubbish before my eyes. I just wouldn’t be able to stand it, should it come to that.
At this point, I had given him another year of my life. A year, for me, was a partial eternity. Finally, to reach a point of clarity, I booked myself a trip to Athens, and had cried myself swollen among the ruins. I sat in a place where no bumbling tourist would ever stumble into the mess that I was, but from where I sat, I had the most heartbreaking view of what I thought could become of my life if I kept things as they were: ruins of a civilization that had once been the most functional and mighty in the world.
After hours of sobbing, sniffling, and overall abuse and soul-scourging, I had emptied myself of all water within my body, and had replenished myself with ouzo and various other strong local drinks. I therefore spent many hours within the peace of a black-out, lived off of ibuprofen, and flew back to Berlin several days later.
Three worse for the gin, which I had drunk at a bar close to our place, I clambered into the apartment and had practically fallen into Marius like a boulder plowing its way down a steep slope.
“I’m sorry,” I had said. “I’m just so fucking sorry.”
I looked into his eyes, hoping he would grasp my meaning. He just smiled and kissed my forehead, complementing me on my deepened skin tone and remarking how glad he was to have me home.
“Marius.” I was shaking my head.
There was an unnatural rushing in my ears.
He stopped. The world stopped. My heart stopped.
And I don’t think it began again until I had closed the door behind me one final time, hailed a cab from the main street behind the apartment, and boarded the plane to London. Then it began again, excrutiatingly slowly, but there it was.
To sever the connection of two souls is more than science can ever explain. Its more than open-heart surgery, more than pulling the plug on a life-support machine, and more than having your worst nightmare realized. It feels like all of that, but is really so much more. The finality of the good-bye is a razor sharp blazing knife ripping through the flesh. Its the stolen breath that refuses to return for what seems like hours. Its the rain that drowns you when the tears refuse to come. Its the emptiness that will never be filled.
It is all that I am.
He cried before my eyes, asking me why, demanding answers that my thick and slow tongue couldn’t produce. “You’re not even giving it a chance Mira,” he had repeated over and over again. “I just don’t understand. We’re so much more than you’re letting us be.” He was right of course. How could I ever tell him that though? How could I tell him that I would rather sacrifice a part of my soul then risk its utter destruction? In a thousand and one ways, I was a coward.
A bloody fucking coward.
He became angry and stood up, wiping his face and nose. “That’s why you haven’t been, I don’t know, writing me when you’re away, or calling me. That’s why you’ve been absent. You were planning this; you just hadn’t found it pertinent to let me in on it.”
I said nothing. In a way, he was right again.
“You’ve been it Mira. For the last long bit of time in my life, it was you. Even when I didn’t even fucking realize it. I’ve been wanting nothing more for so many years. And there you were one day. And now, you can’t fucking risk it anymore?” He was shaking his head and covering his face with his hands.
“Holy Christ,” he whispered. He was breathing audibly, looking out through the wall of windows where, outside, the sunshine mocked me.
An ambulance rolled by on the main street. The door downstairs slammed shut. Dust fell and was heard by no one.
A strange parallel sense of calm settled over the room as he turned back to face me. “I won’t try to change your mind. That would not be right. And frankly, I never want to have to convince you to be with me. Your choice is your own, and I want no part in it.” He paused for what seemed like hours. “I just wish I could understand. I’d give anything to have a glimpse into that mind of yours. You kill me Mira. Truly, you kill me.”
Leaving the truth of his words to hang in the air and finally reach me, he went into the kitchen. He came back with a generous glass of clear liquid, a solitary ice cube bobbing on the surface. “It will be my curse to love you for the rest of my natural life. But someday, I will find peace from it.” He paused. “I think,” he paused again and looked into his glass, “I think I can handle your honesty, and I’ll be a better person for it. Somehow. Someday. But, God and Jesus in Heaven, this hurts. It fucking kills.” He shook his head once, and sighed. Then, very gently, he set the glass onto the counter and took deliberate steps towards me until we were an intimate distance apart. He was looking at the floor. “I’ll miss you. And your perfect friendship. And I’ll only ever want happiness for you.” He leaned in and kissed my cheek so very gently. I think I could’ve died on the spot, if it wasn’t for my unnatural willpower to stay on my feet. Then, he laid his hand gently on my cheek and smiled smally, blue eyes melting into mine.
By the time I came to myself, the glass had disappeared from the counter, there was a small ‘click’ from somewhere behind me, and he was gone. Forever and a day, he was gone.
As is known in psychology when one is in shock, I went through the next few hours in a mechanical state, packing my things, addressing boxes, and loading my suitcases. My mind told me I was leaving a hotel after a trip had come to an end.
What a metaphor; this trip spanning over a decade was now over. What would come of my life now that this chapter had ended, this presence had left me? I zipped the bag shut. I helped myself to a glass of vodka and was still drinking industriously when the shipping service had come to collect my things. I practically had to close one eye to see the line for my signature on the receipt.
It took me days to recover, weeks really. I had known that he would likely never in this lifetime want another thing to do with me after all of this, but I hadn’t been able to calculate the damage that it would inflict upon me after it had come to pass. I was having a monster of a time coping. And that’s an understatement.
“I’ve been in London for three weeks, Mum. I’ve been….out. With people I haven’t seen in years, drinking, dancing, smoking. Trying to forget my fucking miserable life for a just one moment. I’ve been staying with friends, couch surfing, getting a hotel room, whatever I can to avoid being alone in my flat. I can’t do it; I can’t face it yet. I’ve completely obliterated my sense of peace. And I’ve lost someone who was worth more than his weight in gold to me. I highly doubt I will find anyone who understands me like he does. Did. Oh God.” She put her head in her hands. I thought she might cry, but instead, she looked up at me with zombie eyes. “I look like walking hell because I haven’t slept in weeks. I haven’t written anything at all. I tried yesterday, and it was absolutely the most miserable writing anyone could have ever produced. Like in the history of writing, though.” She swallowed and shook her head. “I don’t even feel like a person anymore. I feel—“ She breathed out her nose. “I feel horrible. I feel like I betrayed him. I did betray him. I treated him in a way that he never ever deserved. He was always honest with me; always kind, always an ear for me to speak into. I was such an arse.”
She was so full of her own misery, I didn’t feel compelled to inject any more.
“I mean, I think I’ll come back from it. God, I can only hope. But I know for a fact that there will come many a day where I’ll want to speak with him, to share with him like we always did. I’ll want to see his smile, and never will be able to.”
There was the shimmer of tears in her eyes now.
“He was so clear about his wish for things. He gave me his final goodbye. And he’ll move on. I know he will. He’s such a brilliant human being. My favorite person to ever exist.”
The tears fell now, landing thick and heavy against the light color of her jeans.
“God, he will move on, and he’ll find peace. I hope I am able to do the same.” She looked down, and the tears fell freely. I reached out a hand and clasped hers.
“Mira, you’re a writer. And a brilliant one at that. If nothing else, at some point you’ll find catharsis through that.”
And, against my nature, I stood up, straightened my trousers, and walked to the cabinet. Pulling out the bottle of bourbon and two glasses, I settled back in to have a drink with my daughter; my complicated, beautiful, sometimes idiotic and entirely nonsensical, artistic free-spirit of a daughter.
“Do you happen to have anything a bit stronger Mum?” She made a face at the cup of tea I had placed before her.
“Darling, it’s barely the afternoon. My tea is very strong. Drink it. You’ll feel much better,” I replied, settling into the chair across from hers.
She was staring out the window, watching the rain fall. The lamps were lit, though the grey of the day did its best to snuff out the glow of the bulbs.
“So, why are you here?” I asked, sipping my tea tentatively.
She just looked at me, blinking.
She rolled her eyes. “I dunno, Mum. Cause I’m back in London, and I thought you’d like a chat,” she finally replied a bit saltily.
“I’m aware that you’re back in London. I signed for the packages that arrived at your flat. I do believe I asked you why, and not if you’re here.” I leaned back in my chair and crossed my ankles.
She was flustered, appearing to me as if she would cry at any moment. And she said nothing.
“I don’t understand you Mira,” I said finally.
She squeezed her eyes shut and breathed out. “Mum, I don’t mean to rude, but I may need to go out for a pack of fags if you don’t stop grilling me.”
“That would be a poor life choice, darling,” I remarked, raising an eyebrow.
She shook her head and looked away.
I leaned forward. “You said you’re here for a chat.”
Her head snapped back toward me and she was glaring. “I did say that. A chat—not a bloody browbeating.”
“My dear, I just don’t understand what in Heaven or on Earth would have moved you to leave Berlin. You gave no notice that there was trouble with Marius. In fact, you gave no notice at all that you were coming to London. I spoke with you on the phone not more than five days ago. Forgive me, but I’m absolutely confused by your presence here.”
She sighed and reached for her cup of tea. “I know you have whiskey in the cabinet,” she muttered.
“If that will help you, then by all means.” I gestured to the sideboard where the liquor was stored. Immeadiatly, she sprang to her feet and began to rummage, bottles clinking together as she searched for her poison of choice. Uncorking the bottle of bourbon, she dumped a heavy tot into her cup, the contents sloshing over the sides and down onto the saucer. I breathed deeply and said nothing.
“I’m still going for fags later,” she said after she had re-stowed the bottle and taken her place on the chair again. “That’s much better,” she added, taking an unladylike slurp of her concoction.
“Oh for Christ’s sake Mira,” I said, a bit incredulous at this point. “Pull yourself together and come off it.” I was already tired of the nonsense. “I take it you’ve made a monstrous mistake.” It was speculation, but I was nearly completely certain it was the truth— even if she wasn’t.
“You don’t know that,” she replied quietly.
“Quite right I do. You love Marius. You’ve reconnected after all these years. You were meant to. And yet, here you sit, swigging spiked tea and banging on about having a smoke.” I lifted a shoulder, daring her to contradict me.
She didn’t. She stayed quiet, as did I, and we drank our tea.
“I couldn’t take the chance on him, Mum. Not again,” she finally said.
“Now what, should I suppose, is that meant to mean?” I asked.
She leaned forward. “Look, if I tell you everything, will you reserve your judgement til I’ve had about six more of these?” she asked impatiently.
“I’d appreciate the honesty, yes.”
And so it began.
It is perpetually remarkable to me how the passage of time knows no slowness; yesterday, there was snow on the ground, and many of us were wishing for a new beginning and a better year in 2017. Today, it is summertime in the Windy City, and half of 2017 has run its course. And I sit here and think, “Well, that went fast.”
In another life, perhaps, I would be on the tail-end of my Euro-Excursion; the three week trip I planned last December that would’ve started me in Berlin to visit good friends, seen me through a solo trip to Scotland, and ended in Greece, basking or burning on the shores of the Aegean in the company of a dear friend. Thanks to my new job, the trip was not one I could take, but I can’t find any remorse because I am incredibly happy and grateful to be where I am. I know that, in the big picture, there will be other opportunities for travel. Right now, though, I have to take advantage of other opportunities as they present themselves.
This weekend, for example, has been one of a lot of light and a lot of love. Friday evening was the finale to a year of mentoring an incredible young woman from Lebanon. I took her to a sushi dinner, we went shopping, and ended the evening with a pile of custard to eat. What is most remarkable about my time with her is that, though she is sixteen years old, she has the wisdom and grace that most adults strive to find. I am continually astounded by her astute remarks and beliefs about life. In fact, if I were ever to have a daughter, I would hope that she would turn out to be like this girl: a beautiful and enlightened, intuitive and gracious student of the world. It moved me deep within when she expressed how much I had helped her during her year on exchange, and that my advice had had the power to tweak her perspective. All I could ever desire is having the ability to reach someone with my words. And, apparently, I had done just that. Wow, such an honor. What she maybe didn’t realize, though, was how much she had helped me during the last year. It was symbiotic really; I mentored her, and she most certainly did the same for me. And I cannot thank the universe enough for sending her into my life. I will miss her physical presence terribly, but I am tremendously grateful to have had the time to share with her and look forward to staying connected in the future.
As I went into Saturday, I was rather wary and unsure about where the day would take me. I was jointly attending my son’s preschool picnic with my ex, and time with him is truthfully never an occasion I look very much forward to. However, I was determined to spend as much time as possible getting to know the other parents and building new relationships with like-minded people. Et viola, that is exactly what I did. Though he was present and part of some of the conversations, I focused my energy on putting my best face forward, fully embracing the moments in which I could potentially make a new friend, or learn something from the other parents. It went better than I ever could have expected, and I walked away from the gathering with a sense of hope and gratitude for the exchanges that I had been able to be a part of.
Thirty minutes later, I was parallel parking in front of a cute building on a quiet street in Pilsen, Chicago. One of my best friends had recently moved into an apartment there, and I was going to see it for the first time. As the breeze sailed in through the windows of her charming and spacious apartment, we sat on the couch and talked about life and all its facets, while sipping a cold beer. I mean, honestly, does it get any better than that? An Uber ride later and we were on the North Side, pushing through the garden gate of a friend of hers to drink more beer and socialize while the sounds and smells of Division Fest provided entertainment on the other side of the fence. For the second time that day, I felt extremely welcome by the other attendees, and I was able to meet a lot of really awesome people. The motif of the day, I realized, was that meeting new people and having meaningful exchanges bring incredible value to a day, hour, or moment.
As we walked through the festival, hanging on to each other so we wouldn’t be swallowed and separated by the crowd, I found myself smiling at strangers and they smiled in return. I noticed in detail the smells from the food vendors, and picked up on tidbits of conversation as we passed by other groups of festival-goers. It was incredible to be so present in the moment.
While in the line for Döner Kebap and curry fries (where I also found Club Mate!), we mused about the quandaries presented when dating a total stranger. It was a group conversation of both men and women, and it was as funny as it was informative to trade ideas and stories about such things with others who were seeking the same things as we were: namely, food, companionship, a laugh, advice, and connection with other humans.
Back at hers, after the sun had set, we sat on the back deck and drank red wine mixed with soda. The antennae of the Willis Tower glowed in the near distance, and we continued our more private conversations from earlier in the day. It was still remarkably perfect weather, and we were able to lose track of time as we laughed, conversed, and listened to music. Though it was late and I had been up early, the powerful feeling of rejuvenation prevailed, eliminating the feeling of exhaustion that seems to be present quite often on weeknights.
Times like these show me how incredibly fortunate I am. I am very much aware that my life is nowhere near perfect, and there are many instances that cause me stress overload where I need to remind myself to take a few deep breaths in order to save the situation. However, there are also so many beautiful moments that are so full of happiness and light, that hanging on to the energy from these is powerful enough to keep me afloat during the times when I feel like the dark rabbit hole is threatening to pull me back in. Sometimes, it takes a lot of effort to maintain a healthy mind, other times, letting go and being effortless is all I need to do.
As time goes on, though, I make a habit of reminding myself that there are so many reasons to be happy. Even if a day sees plenty of blockers, there is at least one moment that can be flooded with happiness or gratitude. And that one, single, solitary, moment makes all the difference.
From a distance, they looked like two lovers on holiday. They breakfasted on the veranda together, held hands as they strolled along the beach, and when they looked at each other, well, then it seemed set in stone. It wasn’t just desire in their eyes; it was a deep and intense understanding and admiration of the other. It was only in the moments when they were alone, preparing themselves for bed or the start of a new day that the small elephant sat back down in the corner of the room. Marius would watch Mira combing out her hair after a shower and longed to slip the towel from its precarious position above her breasts. But he didn’t. He still wasn’t sure if that would be what she wanted, too. And she would watch him slide his body into a t-shirt and a pair of pants, admiring the musculature that vanished beneath the cloth. She liked the careful yet carefree way he tidied his hair and face each morning, and found nothing imperfect about his physique. But they both felt as if they were dancing in a dream, and at anytime, the song would end. The perfect blue of the ocean, the caressing warmth of the early spring, and the endless supply of food and drink seemed to perpetuate the illusion. The question was simple if not terribly impossible to answer: where should they go from here? Both of them felt that, at this age, they should know how to answer, and therefore both kept their lips sealed tightly shut.
“When we get back to Berlin, do you think you’ll stay?” He asked one night as they sat on the balcony. Her head rested on his chest and he held her close. She raised her head and looked back at him. “Of course you’ll travel for your writing, but will you stay, with me?” He asked, very quietly, fearing the possibilities of her response. She laid her head back down and he exhaled. “I’d be rather happy to stay with you,” she answered slowly. He waited for more but nothing else came. All that was left to fill the silence were the crashing waves washing over the nearby shore.
When they arrived back in Berlin, they stood in the living room of Marius’ apartment; Mira looked down at her phone, Marius looked at her, waiting. Finally, she looked up. “Do you think I should send my stuff up from London then?” she asked. He thought he caught an anxious look in her eyes. “I think that’s a great idea, yes,” he replied simply, hoping she would relax. She nodded once. “Right. I’ll get on with it then.”
While she telephoned with a shipping service, Marius prepared a tray of snacks complete with a bottle of sparkling Rose. He set it all gently down on the coffee table and began flicking through his work email account which had been abandoned for five days while they had been in Spain. He poured himself a glass of wine and busied himself with drinking industriously and scrolling systematically. “It’ll arrive tomorrow afternoon,” she said, bringing him back from cyber land. “That’s great news. I’ll make space in the closet for you,” he said, smiling over at her.
“Erm, yea, or I could I just, you know, stuff it all in the guest bedroom closet.”
“Mira, I’m happy to make all the space you need. Don’t you want to share space with me?”
She felt a bit ridiculous and began to blush. “I, yes, I do. I just, well. I don’t exactly fucking know how to really. It just feels so odd to…move into your flat again. Obviously it’s not the same one as before. But, still.”
“Alright. Fair enough. I understand. But, this time, we’re much older and much wiser. And hopefully you won’t leave me for the beauty of Switzerland or anywhere else.” He took her hand gently and smiled. She leaned her forehead against his, breathing deeply. He smelled wonderful. Comforting. “I can’t believe this Marius. Sometimes I still just can’t. I mean, what if it really should be Lila here all along?” she murmured, speaking to the floor.
“Mira, I didn’t leave Lila because we didn’t make a good match. We did. But I’ve loved you since I told you the first time a million years ago. After awhile I didn’t realize it anymore, but it was always there.”
She was quiet, examining the lines on the palms of her hands, before laughing a little. “I’m too old for this shit,” she commented, looking up to meet his eyes with hers. He smiled and squeezed her hand.
She took up a book and he seated himself at the piano, beginning to plunk around, tinkering with a new melody. As usual when he played, she found herself unable to concentrate on anything else but the music lofting from the mechanism that was the grand piano. She looked round the spacious room and frowned slightly. She would need to mark out a place of her own; somewhere where she could spread out and do some proper work. She couldn’t imagine sharing a workspace with Marius. In fact, it was difficult for her to get her head around the concept of sharing any type of space with anyone after so many years of solitary accommodation. But, the longer she sat, taking in the music as it filled every molecule in the room with the purest sound, she realized that there was likely no better atmosphere to share with another human. This peace, this comfort; she would remain as long as it did. For surely, she thought, this would be a wonderful soundtrack to write to everyday. Surely, indeed.